No question about Woods' elbow injury

By Jason SobelJune 19, 2013, 7:55 pm

The following isn’t meant as a defense of Tiger Woods, but if the shoe fits...

When Woods withdrew from last year’s WGC-CA Championship while far off the lead on the 12th hole of the final round, there was public outcry – not a majority opinion, but certainly not a silent minority, either – that he was earning a reputation as a quitter, despite just four previous withdrawals as a professional. When Woods continued competing in all four rounds of this past week’s U.S. Open despite a left-elbow strain – finishing in a share of 32nd place – there was again public outcry, this time bemoaning his supposed penchant for showing pain when not on top of the leaderboard.

Hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

The facts are that Woods was first seen favoring the elbow after his second shot on the first hole of the opening round at Merion Golf Club. When asked about the injury one day later, he was hardly transparent, but did offer that he initially suffered the injury during “one of the rounds” while winning The Players Championship.

Wednesday’s announcement that Woods will take “a few weeks off” before returning for next month’s Open Championship should quash any sentiment that his reactions were anything less than genuine. Excluding the major championships, there are few events he would less prefer to miss than his own AT&T National. In fact, he still won’t miss the event, saying on his personal website, “I look forward to being there to provide my support.”

Timeline: Woods' injuries

The lingering question will now switch from “How badly is he injured?” to “How much will this affect the remainder of his season?” While only time will tell the severity of the strain, history shows that Woods will undoubtedly recover yet again.

This is the now the sixth consecutive season in which the world’s No. 1-ranked player has been affected by injury, with varying degrees of success in varying increments of time after each.

When he played the 2008 U.S. Open with a torn ACL and multiple stress fractures in his tibia, Woods required surgery and missed the remainder of the season. Upon returning two months into the next year, he followed a second-round exit at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship with a T-9 at Doral, then a win at Bay Hill two weeks later – one of six victories that season.

His 2010 season started in April because of a self-imposed leave of absence, but was again interrupted because of a neck injury on the seventh hole of his final round at The Players. Though Woods failed to win that year, his subpar return one month later was more likely blamed on the personal scandal that delayed his start as opposed to the neck issue.

In what became a trend at TPC Sawgrass, he also withdrew from the 2011 edition of the event after just nine holes because of knee and Achilles injuries suffered one month earlier at the Masters. He would be sidelined three more months, then fail to finish better than 30th in three late-season starts.

Last year, it was a leg injury that forced his withdrawal at Doral. Carted off the course and followed by overhead cameras while driving down the nearby highway, we were left to wonder about the extent of another such medical issue. That wonderment lasted exactly two weeks, when he returned to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

In the aftermath of this latest injury, many observers will try to extrapolate Woods’ elbow strain into a sign of getting older or increased fragility. Sometimes an elbow strain, though, is just an elbow strain.

There is little reason to believe he won’t return from this one – hardly the worst of his afflictions in recent years – sooner rather than later. Save for the final two majors of 2008 following surgery, he’s missed just two others since turning professional.

All of which leads to one other observation that has also received public attention: Since first suffering these injuries five years ago, Woods has yet to win another major.

To that notion, there is no defense.

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Highlights: Woods shoots Saturday 69 at API

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 17, 2018, 8:40 pm

Tiger Woods made six birdies Sunday, including one at the home hole, to shoot 3-under 69 and move to 7 under par for the week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

When he walked off the golf course, he was four off the 11-under pace set by Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau, all of whom were still on the course.

"I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, and probably get a little bit of help," Woods told Golf Channel's Steve Sands in a post-round interview. "But my responsibility is to go out there and shoot a low one first."

Woods didn't bogey the first hole on Saturday like he did the day prior - but he did drop at a shot at the par-3 second when he failed to get up and down from the bunker.

Luckily, it wouldn't take him long to get that stroke back. One hole later, at the dogleg-left, par-4 third, Woods ripped a 2-iron off the tee, hit a less-than-stellar approach long and right, and poured in this 38-footer for birdie to get back to even par on the day.

He followed with another at the par-5 fourth, smoking a drive 313 yards uphill, short-siding himself with his second shot, and playing this deft pitch to set up a tap-in 4.

After a par save from the bunker at 5, Woods missed the fairway right at the par-5 sixth, laid up with his second, spun a wedge to 15 feet with his third, and rolled in this third birdie of the day to move to 6 under for the week.

Woods' momentum was slowed by a bogey at 8, the product of an errant tee shot, and a missed birdie try at 9 left Tiger to make the turn in 1 under-35, minus-5 for the week.

He quickly returned to 6 under for the championship when he hit an approach from 186 to inside 10 feet at the par-4 11th and walked in the putt:

Following four straight pars, Woods for the second day in a row made an unlikely birdie at the par-5 16th after missing the fairway to the right and declining to layup.

Woods would drop one more shot coming in when his ball fried in the front bunker at 17, leading to a bogey, but this closing birdie at 18, his sixth of the day, got him into the clubhouse 3 under for the round and 7 under for the week. It also elicited a rare straight-down fist pump.

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Two-time major champ Pettersen pregnant

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 7:14 pm

PHOENIX – Suzann Pettersen is pregnant with her first child.

Pettersen’s husband, Christian Ringvold, confirmed the news with Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.

Pettersen, 36, who married Ringvold in January of 2017, is due in the fall. The 15-time LPGA winner and two-time major champion has yet to make her first start this year. She’s an eight-time Solheim Cup veteran.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

It was a 3-under 69 on Saturday for Tiger Woods for a 7-under total through three rounds. We tracked him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.